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Survey: What Americans Know About The Internet

Pew Research announced the results of a survey of Internet users about their knowledge of technologies related to the Internet. The survey was conducted September 18 - 25, 2014, and it included a nationally-representative sample of 1,066 Internet users in the United States. Some key findings:

"Substantial majorities of internet users are able to correctly answer questions about some common technology platforms and everyday internet usage terms. Around three-quarters know that a megabyte is bigger than a kilobyte, roughly seven in ten are able to identify pictures corresponding to terms like “captcha” and “advanced search,” and 66% know that a “wiki” is a tool that allows people to modify online content in collaboration with others."

Somewhat troubling is the following finding:

"Americans also have challenges accurately describing certain concepts relating to internet policy. Six in ten internet users (61%) are able to correctly identify the phrase “Net Neutrality” as referring to equal treatment of digital content by internet service providers. On the other hand, fewer than half (44%) are aware that when a company posts a privacy statement, it does not necessarily mean that they are actually keeping the information they collect on users confidential."

23 percent of participants correctly identified the following statement as false:

"Internet and WWW are the same"

College graduates scored higher on the quiz than others. While younger Internet users knew more about social networking terms and technologies like "captcha," there are areas where both young and older Internet users didn't perform well:

"... Internet users of all ages are equally likely to believe—incorrectly—that the internet and the World Wide Web are the same thing. There are also no major age differences when it comes to the meaning of phrases like “Net Neutrality” or “privacy policy,” and older and younger internet users correctly identify pictures of Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg at comparable rates."


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